What is AYSRH?
Adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) is a sub-section of global health work that specifically focuses on SHR for young people (ages 10-25). This covers diverse needs from access to family planning/contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, abortion services and post-abortion care, HIV/AIDS and other STI prevention, treatment and counseling, etc. and the right for young people to have the right to information, access to services, and decision-making power about their own sexuality and reproductive health.
Addressing SRH in adolescence is a critical time as young people are navigating physiological changes, puberty, and starting to mature. Decisions and consequences of SHR decisions, such as unplanned pregnancies, can impact the trajectory or a young person’s life, and we believe that good quality, equitable and unbiased delivery of SRH information, education, and services are critical to helping youth and adolescents achieve their full potential and make the decisions for a fulfilling and prosperous life.
A number of pioneering AYSRH projects have seen promising results from using HCD. We believe that adding HCD to global health projects broadly can complement existing approaches to achieve better interventions and better health outcomes. But in particular, the meaningful engagement with the user that comes through HCD is a really exciting opportunity to improve how we design and implement for youth and adolescents, and helps to facilitate privacy, safe spaces and empathy that are all important for difficult or stigmatized topics like SRH.
We’re not saying that HCD is the silver bullet, we just believe that in the toolkit of community participatory approaches, design offers unique value and opportunities to think outside of the box on how to solve big AYSRH challenges and complement disciplines such as behavioural economics, social behaviour change communication, community-based participatory research, and others.
How we have seen HCD add value to AYSRH programming:
HCD helps practitioners empathize with young people and understand challenges from their perspective, and as situated in their lives.
HCD involves going back to young people to get their input on the solutions being developed for them. It seeks to constantly understand more and create solutions collaboratively with the user.
Through its ways of working HCD acknowledges that solutions that take the one-size fits all approach rarely work. This is in line with the understanding that all young people are not the same, have varying needs, and may be in different life stages.
HCD uses tools that nudge practitioners to ideate and come up with solutions that are aligned with adolescent and youth needs.
HCD uses tools that nudge practitioners to ideate and come up with solutions that are aligned with adolescent needs.
HCD takes a holistic approach. Solutions are not only tested with the users but also with the ecosystem that will help implement the solution. Iterations are made based on these learnings.
At the inception of the HCDExchange Community of Practice, practitioners from HCD+AYSRH projects came together to co-create a learning agenda based on core themes and questions around integrating HCD into the world of AYSRH. We landed on 4 learning areas:
1. Adolescent insights: generating and using HCD insights throughout the project / program cycle
2. Youth Integration: meaningfully centering on youth user/participants, and creating opportunities to integrate them as young designers and co-creators in the process
3. Measuring & Evaluation: how to measure adaptive and iterative programs and determine the best metrics of success to capture the value-add of HCD
4. Quality & Standards: identifying and promoting the core elements that ensure quality HCD in AYSRH programs